During the first few seconds glancing at Buono Bistro through its glass facade, I thought this was not a place that I would typically visit. It's a "traditional" Italian restaurant run by Thais, that's one point, but more striking was its largeness and courtly decor that didn't seem to fit in with the small suburban plaza nor offer much culinary promise.
One of the two individually-themed dining halls that are decked out to offer a fine-dining atmosphere without any dress code.
My two hours dining there on a Friday evening was, however, continually filled with pleasant surprises. The 250-seater started to fill up before 6.30pm with an amazingly diverse clientele (office workers, families with young kids and elders, college students and expats).
With my table located near the restaurant's entrance I could also see that most of the customers happened to walk in, look at the menu and make their decision right on site. And around 7.30pm I began to spot people outside waiting for the next available tables.
Then, despite its haughty-looking setting with two individually-themed dining halls, crystal chandeliers, velvet draperies as well as neatly uniformed service staff, I was told by the restaurant's manager Buono is really not a fine-dining venue, or, at least, doesn't require its diners to perform like they're in one.
Similar to any typical shopping arcade eatery, Buono has no dress code. You can come in shorts and sandals but will be treated somewhat at a fine-dining level.
Upon sitting at one of the nicely spaced tables, our party of five was served with a complimentary basket of bread (loved the rosemary-sprinkled pizza bread) and butter.
The bistro's extraordinarily extensive menu comes in Thai, English and Italian and offers more than 200 items.
We started off scrumptiously with baked avocado with cream cheese, prawns, mozzarella and truffle (350 baht). Two halves of the ripened fruit arrived underneath a hefty browned topping mainly of shrimp meat and cheese, accompanied by a leafy salad with balsamic dressing.
Following the rich and creamy starter was a refreshing chef salad (250 baht), which presented a nice medley of textures and flavours from crisp salad greens, brittle bacon, creamy goat's cheese, tangy tangerine and mustard rocket with a nutty hint from pine nuts.
The highly recommended lobster thermidore with spaghetti aglio.
For pizza, we were delighted by the best selling Buono signature (580 baht). The extra large thin-crust pizza which can serve up to five diners came topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, rocket, mascarpone, truffle and parma ham. Ravioli black seafood (350 baht) was our choice of pasta. The dish exhibited two pieces of palm-sized, squid-ink dumplings stuffed with a well-seasoned mixture of prawn and crab meat. The dumplings came dredged in lobster bisque sauce and proved tasty.
Thai-style sharing is an ideal dining fashion at Buono because the food, from appetisers to main courses, often comes in large portions. And one of the dishes I suggest that you order as a communal main course due to its gigantic serving and exceptional quality is the lobster thermidore (1,200 baht).
Normally I'm not a fan of cooked lobster, as opposed to the sashimi-style preparation, for the fact that it is usually a dull tasting meat with a rubbery texture.
But the restaurant's baked Canadian lobster with porcini mushroom and mozzarella cream sauce, the work of local chefs, was the best of its kind I've had in years, and certainly the star of the evening.
The giant crustacean, with its nicely shelled claws displayed on top of the coarsely chopped meat that had been cooked and seasoned with porcini mushroom, cream and cheese before being placed back into its shell, offered an impressive mouthfeel in terms of taste and texture.
The lobster was served with a decent portion of spaghetti aglio, which was cooked al dente with garlic, olive oil and chilli to offer a nice balance of flavour.
A nice option for beef aficionados is the 500g Australian T-bone steak (1,200 baht). Accompanied by sauteed potato cubes, grilled vegetables and fresh rocket leaves, the imported beef, butchered freshly, was medium-cooked to our preference and offered a gratifying, though not outstanding, quality.
The restaurant also proved a master when it came to desserts.
Whatever you do, don't miss the firm, supple and not overly sweet chocolate panna cotta (170 baht) and the extraordinary soft raspberry-white cream crepe (190 baht).
Buono has a decent wine list, while cocktails, classic and house-concocted, are offered. Service was efficient and cordial.
About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter